The public is invited to provide input on new draft regulations under the Water Act at a series of public meetings in October. These regulations will control water extraction and outline how much water can be drawn from wells, watercourses and wetlands.
Islanders can drop in to any of the following meetings between 6 – 8 pm:
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 – Three Oaks High, Summerside *Translation Services available
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 – Hernwood Junior High, Mill River
“Water is essential to every part of life. Our water supports diverse ecosystems, drinking water for Islanders, a vibrant economy, and spaces for recreation. It’s crucial we bring the Water Act into force. Ultimately, these regulations will help government experts continue to manage our water supply with sound data and science.”
– Brad Trivers, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change
The meetings will happen in a collaborative workshop format. Participants will be led through a series of exercises encouraging open feedback and input on the proposed regulations.
To help prepare for the meetings, visit On the Level(link is external) for an overview of PEI’s water resources, including how government is monitoring, managing and protecting watersheds.
For those unable to attend the public meetings, an online survey will be available from Tuesday, October 22 until Friday, November 8 at On The Level.(link is external)
The water withdrawal regulations have been available for public consultation since this summer and will continue to be available November 8, 2019.
All-candidates Environmental Forums will be held in the four PEI ridings on October 3rd, at the Linkletter Community Centre (Egmont), Hunter River Community Centre (Malpeque), UPEI’s Duffy Amphitheatre (Charlottetown), and Kaylee Hall in Poole’s Corner (Cardigan). Most candidates have confirmed their participation. Forums get underway at 7 p.m. and will end at 9:15 p.m.
Twenty-four Island organizations (listed below) have joined up to sponsor the forums and have developed a list of questions that address climate change, marine conservation, pollution and environmental rights. Time will also be available for questions from the floor, submitted in writing before the second half of the forum.
Admission is free, although a donation jar will be provided to help defray some hall-rental and equipment expenses.
Organizations include the Environmental Coalition of PEI, the Institute of Island Studies, Pesticide Free PEI, PEI Environmental Health Cooperative, Cooper Institute, Save our Seas and Shores PEI, PEI Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club, Blue Dot PEI, Citizens’ Alliance of PEI, Don’t Frack PEI, Nature PEI, Latin American Mission Program, Happy Ocean PEI, UPEI Environmental Society, Friends of Covehead & Brackley Bay, Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, Green Economy Network, Trade Justice PEI, Green Economy Network, Hunter Clyde Watershed Group, PEI Youth for the Climate, Trout River Environmental Committee, the Coalition for Protection of PEI Land, and the PEI Watershed Alliance.
For more information, please contact:
Charlottetown: Laurie Brinklow, Institute of Island Studies, UPEI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cardigan: Maureen Kerr (email@example.com)
Egmont: Barbara Graham (Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Malpeque: Ann Wheatley, Environmental Coalition of PEI (email@example.com)
Cooper Institute will hold its 2019 Social Justice Symposium, Protection of PEI Lands and Water as Sources of All Life on Tuesday, June 4th, 6:30-9:00 pm at the Souris and Area Ski & Wildlife Lodge.
Cooper Institute is pleased to announce that its 2019 Social Justice Symposium will be held in Souris on Tuesday, June 4th, and that it will be co-hosted by the Souris & Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation.
The symposium, which is one of three that Cooper Institute will hold in different Island communities this year, will be on the theme of Protection of PEI Lands and Water as Sources of All Life, and will take place at the Souris and Area Ski & Wildlife Lodge, 1358 Souris Line Rd on Tuesday June 4th, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Everyone is invited, and there is no fee to register. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is advised, to make sure there is room for everyone. To reserve a seat, please contact Fred or Keila at 902-687-4115, Cooper Institute at 902-894-4573 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com by Monday, May 27th. Travel and child/elder care subsidies are available on request.
The program will include presentations by biologists Daryl Guignon and Rosemary Curley, both of whom have spent many years exploring Prince Edward Island’s watersheds, fields and forests. There will also be time for active involvement of participants in discussions about land and water as sources of life, how land and water are threatened, why it matters, how we are working together as a community, and what more can be done to improve the health of our ecosystems.
The Social Justice Symposium is an annual event, held in memory of Father Andrew Macdonald, a founder of Cooper Institute and composer of many songs that celebrated the physical beauty of Prince Edward Island.
There is no fee for the forum. Refreshments are provided. Travel and child/elder care subsidies are available on request. To facilitate planning and seating, pre-registration is advised,. To pre-register contact Fred or Keila at 902-687-4115, or Marie at 902-894-4573, or email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, May 27.
Save our Seas and Shores PEI (a coalition of individuals, environmental and social justice groups, and organizations representing fishers and tourism operators) will mark World Oceans Week, which runs from June 1st to 8th with a symposium – Celebrating and Protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence – at the PEI Farm Centre on Saturday, June 1st, from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m.
The symposium will open with a poem by PEI’s Poet Laureate, Julie Pellissier-Lush.
Sylvain Archambault, co-founder of the St. Lawrence Coalition and biologist with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Québec, will present the keynote address, entitled “The Gulf of St. Lawrence, An Ecosystem Under Threat … In Need of Love”.
A panel of speakers will address The Diversity and Vulnerability of the Gulf: Biologist and Nature PEI President Rosemary Curley will talk about marine species at risk. Troy Jerome from Gaspé, Québec will provide the perspective of a Mi’gmaq community leader with a wealth of experience on environmental, energy and fishing issues. Producer Mary Gorman will present the newly-released short film, “The Vanishing Call of the Right Whale”, directed by Eliza Knockwood and narrated by Ethan Hawke.
A second panel, on Marine Protected Areas, Benefits and Challenges, will include Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, who will also provide an update on the Ecojustice lawsuit to protect the Gulf from risky offshore drilling in the Old Harry oil and gas prospect. Marine ecologist Irené Novaczek will speak about the Basin Head Marine Protected Areas, which illustrates the environmental challenges facing the inshore areas of the Gulf and the importance of MPAs. Bob Creed, Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Communities, will speak about PEI’s current and future marine conservation areas.
The Gulf is a truly unique, diverse and rich ecosystem but it is threatened by many different factors: warming of the water, acidification, oxygen depletion, invasive species, pollution, habitat destruction, underwater noise and oil and gas exploration activities. While there is no single solution to such problems, marine protected areas do offer some hope.
Opportunities for questions from the audience and a refreshment break will be provided. This event is open to the public and there is no admission fee although donations, to help cover the costs of the event, will be gratefully accepted.
Saturday, June 1, 2019
PEI Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown
Peter Bevan-Baker (Green Party of PEI), Joe Byrne (New Democratic Party of PEI), Dennis King (Progressive Conservative Party of PEI) and Wade MacLauchlan (Liberal Party of PEI) will take part in a forum on environmental issues on Monday, April 8th. The forum will be moderated by Dr Carolyn Peach-Brown, Chair of Environmental Studies at UPEI.
The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is one of twenty groups that have collaborated to organize this forum. Groups were asked to submit questions on a wide range of topics, and these will be addressed by each of the leaders. In addition there will be time for questions from the audience.
This is an important forum, a chance to hear how each party proposes to address ongoing threats to our water, oceans, lands and forests and the urgency of climate change.
Monday, April 8th, 7-9 pm, in the Alex H. MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242 of McDougall Hall on the UPEI campus.
In November of 2018, Robert Irving appeared before the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and the Environment. He had been asked to speak about his corporation’s land holdings but he really never did get around to that. There were other things on his mind. Once again he demanded that the moratorium on high capacity wells be lifted, to allow for a research project involving 3 watershed groups and UPEI and government researchers. Read the full research proposal here. At the same meeting he asked for land limits under the Lands Protection Act to be effectively doubled.
Here’s what Marie Ann Bowden from the Coalition said in a Letter to the Editor, after the Charlottetown Guardian published an editorial in support of Irving’s project idea:
The Guardian editorial of December 5, “A sensible suggestion,” clearly supports the proclaimed commitment to environmental sustainability expressed by Cavendish Farms. While I salute the editor’s optimism, it raises a few questions:
The province has indicated that the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture will remain in place at least until 2021, when the research of Dr. Mike Van den Heuval and the Canadian Rivers Institute is completed. No new high capacity wells should be considered or permitted until that time.
If this proposal were to be accepted, and the water drawn from these wells used to irrigate agricultural lands, would this simply be a happy byproduct of “determining the impacts of agricultural irrigation on the water table”? And if Island water sources are shown to be “at risk” as a result, how would those negative impacts be addressed?
The editor states, “The Irvings are successful because they make sound, and sometimes hard, business decisions.” So when exactly does a “pilot” project undertaken in the name of sustainability become a hard business decision to irrigate more agricultural lands, and circumvent a moratorium on deep water wells endorsed by Islanders?
Let’s call “a spade, a spade” or in this case ” a spud, a spud.” The proposal requires violating the moratorium. The “sensible suggestion” is that government should simply reject it on that basis alone – no matter who is making the application.
You are invited to a general meeting of the Coalition for Protection of PEI Water on Monday, January 7th, 7:00 pm at the PEI Farm Centre.
A few members of the Coalition will meet with Minister of Environment, Richard Brown on January 3rd – a lot of time has elapsed since we’ve heard anything about the Water Act and its regulations, so we’re hoping to be able to provide some kind of update on the 7th.
There will also be time to share ideas/concerns about issues that we might want to take action on, and to talk about organizing for the next election.
Recently in the legislature, Opposition MLA Steven Myers challenged Minster Richard Brown on the undue influence of Cavendish Farms on government policy, particularly the Water Act. After several frustrating attempts to clarify what private meetings the government had held during the time when regulations for the Water Act are being developed, he concluded: “Irvings get to have a special seat at the Liberal table when it comes to making policy . . . especially when it comes to dealing with our water . . .”
The minister emphatically denied any special relationship. “We are working with anybody that wants to work with government that has the interest of the environment first. We will continue to meet with each and every person in order to make our environment great.”
But this is simply not the case. Everyone does not have ready access to a place at Minister Brown’s table. I am a member of three organizations that have ‘the interest of the environment first.’ Each has had considerable difficulty arranging a meeting with Minister Brown.
The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water formed in 2013 in response to the Cavendish Farms proposal for lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture. Its membership includes 20 environmental, watershed and social justice groups and more than 200 individuals. The coalition has been actively involved in the ongoing process of development of the Water Act. The previous minister, Robert Mitchell noted in the legislature the important contribution the Coalition had made to the Water Act.
The Coalition made several requests for meetings with Minister Brown since he was appointed in January. Eventually a meeting was arranged and then cancelled by the minister. He said he would reschedule. We contacted him again at the end of May. We’re still awaiting his call.
The Environmental Coalition of P.E.I. has a long history of working on behalf of the environment. For 30 years, ECOPEI has been a leader in environmental education, done pioneering work in the restoration of the Acadian Forest through the MacPhail Woods Ecological Forestry Project, and done extensive tree planting across the Island, and organizing electoral forums on environmental issues.
ECOPEI has made several requests for meetings with the minister since January to discuss our concerns about a range of important environmental issues. He called back in June, talked about setting up a meeting. We’re still waiting for his call.
The Citizens’ Alliance (CA) formed out of the response of a large group of concerned Islanders to the Plan B project. And while the battle to stop Plan B was unsuccessful, CA formed to continue the spirit and energy of this group. Its mission is to be a vigilant observer and advocate for the environment and to promote democratic process. CA was instrumental in the initial organization of the Water Coalition, in bringing the Blue Dot/Environmental rights campaign to P.E.I., and in opposing the plan to bottle P.E.I. water for export.
CA’s request for a meeting with Minister Brown also went unanswered.
By contrast, there’s Cavendish Farms. Government is interested in developing collaborative relationships with them. They are welcomed at the government table, supported with public money, lauded by the minister for their environmental stewardship. Environmental costs, like the steady decline in the organic content of Island soils in a province with a dominant potato industry, were not even mentioned at a recent Cavendish Farms presentation to the standing committee. [GS2]
Why such a different response? Do the citizens of Prince Edward Island really feel that industry deserves meetings and access while the public does not? Do Islanders believe that the health of the environment that sustains all of us should always take a back seat to the promotion of unlimited economic growth? Do citizens believe that those interests with money and power are entitled to more of a say about what happens on P.E.I. than the rest of us?
The issue of access to water and the health of our waterways is of great importance to all Islanders and not just to those who own processing companies. It’s time for Minister Brown and the government to listen carefully to all of us who truly do have ‘the interest of the environment first.’
– Don Mazer is a member of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water, ECOPEI and the Citizens’ Alliance. He lives in Suffolk on the Winter River.